Mobile is BIG. Really big. In fact, mobile — with a deeper penetration than electricity and safe drinking water — is the most pervasive technology ever invented. If 2011 was the year when mobile data, specifically mobile apps and mobile Web, reached the masses, then 2012 will be the year that companies everywhere on the planet do more than merely ‘go mobile.’ They will focus efforts and resources on providing people an optimized experience on mobile. Annette Tonti provides a detailed overview of mobile and her five tips for driving traffic and engagement.
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A few years ago, if you didn’t have a website, your business was behind the competition and would suffer as a result. Today, the same is true with a mobile website. The race is on to make your mark on mobile — and for good reason. Globally, there are now over 6 billion mobile devices in the hands of consumers, and by 2013 more people will access the Internet via a mobile device than a PC.
In the U.S. Nielsen reports the majority of new phone purchases are smartphones, with Android and Apple leading the way. The research firm counts over 100 million mobile Internet users in the U.S. alone, a significant data point that has convinced moved small- and medium-size businesses (SMBs) to move their mobile strategies up a gear. In fact, in response to a recent survey conducted by SMB Group, over half of SMBs had plans to launch a mobile site.
A mobile presence is table stakes, particularly if we consider the increasing importance of search in our daily routine. At one level, mobile search is on the rise because the devices deliver a much better experience. However, search is also the way people research and consider their next purchase. A recent Google study shows that of the 95 percent of smartphone users who are conducting local searches, 90 percent of them will act on their results within 24 hours. Additionally, 61 percent will call the business, while another 59 percent will visit a location. Consumers also prefer to use the mobile Web over apps to check prices, read product reviews and make purchases.
Unlike mobile apps, having a mobile website will give you access to these mobile searchers, and allow you to provide an optimized experience for customers and consumers on the go. But there are some hurdles to clear before you clinch the deal. Discovery, for example, can be a challenge, but following these simple tips can help you rise above the noise and drive traffic to your mobile website.
5 ways to more mobile traffic
1. Tell them where to go: The easiest, and often over-looked, way to get traffic to your mobile site is to redirect all your desktop traffic coming in from mobile devices to your mobile optimized website. For example, if you go to www.cnn.com from your mobile phone browser, you will automatically be redirected to the appropriate mobile optimized site for your phone type. Remember, it may take a while for your mobile site to show up in mobile SEO rankings and users may still type in your URL or click on your standard site in search. But browsing your main website from a mobile phone just isn’t fun. It is slow, not geared toward a mobile browser experience or a consumer on the go, and sometimes flat out doesn’t work. (Remember: Flash technology doesn’t render on most phones.)
Take two local businesses we have observed in the Outer Banks of North Carolina that have recently experienced phenomenal jumps in their mobile Web traffic due to redirects. Corolla Pizza, a local pizza restaurant in Corolla, NC, began redirecting their mobile browser traffic to their mobile site and increased their mobile Web traffic by a whopping 11,000 percent(!). Similarly, The Blue Point restaurant in Duck, NC went from zero mobile visitors to 411 visitors in a day after redirecting their mobile browser traffic. Keep in mind that it’s always good practice to provide a link back to your main site just in case your visitor is looking for information that isn’t available on your mobile site.
2. Make your mobile name special: If you want your mobile site to be easy to find, pick a name for it. You can either purchase a special domain name, like domain.mobi for your mobile site, or simply create a subdomain, like m.domain.com. Either one works, but I’ve seen many large sites using subfolders, such as Information Week, which uses mobile.informationweek.com for its mobile property.
To make it easier to keep people coming back, consider offering the option to create a bookmark or home screen icon that links directly to your mobile site. This is the approach Information Week follows on their mobile website, thus giving the site “app-like” access and real estate on the home screen.
3. Map it out: Generating and submitting a mobile site map is the first step to boosting your mobile search traffic. A site map allows search engines like Google to accurately index your mobile Web content and make it available for searchers. Just like desktop Web, you need to follow SEO best practices with site maps, page titles, keywords, and inbound links.
Using a mobile content management system makes this easy and will generate a mobile site map on your behalf. Mobile content management platforms handle all the mobile messiness related to a mobile site, like optimizing for all the various platforms, providing code for your redirects, helping with your mobile SEO, and utilizing design best practices – so you can focus on your business.
4. Spread the word: Remember the days when every TV advertisement had to included the brand’s URL? Well, that is where we are with mobile. Until mobile search really improves to the point that it can recognize mobile optimized sites and rank these higher in mobile searches, you will need to take the initiative and get the word out to your customer base.
To accomplish this include your mobile Web address in your marketing materials including newspaper ads, signage, business cards, coupons, social networking sites, and more. Don’t forget to also include a mobile button on your Internet website with a link and information on how to access your mobile website.
5. Think shortcuts: Entering long URLs into a mobile device is not fun, which is why advertisers around the world are latching on to QR, or Quick Response, codes. A QR code is that funky barcode you see on everything from movie posters to soda cans. Using a barcode-scanning app on your phone, such as RedLaser or SmartScan, consumers take a picture of the QR code and, in return, receive a reward back. That could be a piece of content like a ringtone or a picture, or a link for more product information, or how to buy. Providing a link to your site via QR code from your packaging, POP displays, business cards, signage, menus, coupons, and ads will help drive traffic to your mobile site and increase engagement with your brand.
Case in point: The City of Warwick in Rhode Island, which is also home to the state’s only airport. It recently launched a mobile website to promote travel and tourism and provide important travel-related information for visitors. To support this effort, the city authorities used QR codes on posters in the T.F. Green Airport to direct visitors to information about lodging, restaurants, and attractions.
These steps will get your started on the path to mobile success — but where do you go from there?
Mobile can be a tough terrain to navigate if you put technology first. I recommend you put people first and consider how (and why) mobile devices are becoming an integral part of how people work, play, and live. Think context, intent and convenience. Your customers want to do more than just look up product information. They want to buy. They want to ask questions. They want to get help. And they want it 24/7.
Can you offer product FAQs? Installation videos? Feeds from your customer service or product development blog? Access to customer support personnel via data capture forms, click-to-SMS, or click-to-call? Customer account log in to track order or delivery status? Your mobile site is your first line of defense and first opportunity to provide the customer care and support to deliver a complete user experience.
Start simple and use mobile analytics and customer surveys to discover what information and resources your customers are looking for from their mobile device. This mindset will allow you to do more than stay a step ahead of your competition; you will be equipped to create and maintain a mobile website customers will want to come back to, again and again.
Named one of Mobile Marketer’s “Mobile Women to Watch”, Annette Tonti is a executive with over 20 years of business and entrepreneurial experience. She is CEO of MoFuse, Inc a fast growing mobile content management platform for small and medium business. MoFuse works with businesses around the world to enable mobile web success stories. Previously she was Co-Founder and CEO of Bluestreak, Inc. an early entrant in rich media advertising and online marketing technologies. Prior to Bluestreak she served as Executive Producer, Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Laboratory and Vice President, Executive Director Vanguard, a global marketing and advisory service for senior executives. She attended the University of Cincinnati and holds advanced degrees in Computer Science and Mathematics and a B.S. degree in Biological Sciences. Annette blogs about mobile on the Small Screen blog and you can follow her on Twitter @atonti